Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus folds up its big top for good

The 'Greatest Show On Earth' is no more

The famed "Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus" folded up its big top for good Sunday after a 146-year run and one last performance.

For a 146 years, the circus was a constant source of fun and amazement.

But it is no more.

Among the 14,000 people who crammed into the Nassau Coliseum to watch the final performance Sunday were former members of the circus and, of course, children like 8-year-old Rachel Mower, who said she was sad the show was closing.

More than 500 people who worked as the spellbinding acts and the quiet teams behind the scenes that kept the circus running all these years are unemployed Monday, including the Florida horse team originally from Kazikstan.

Beranika, 7, was born between performances and wept as she said the show was over.

Her mother said she is heartbroken, saying she understands it's over, but her heart cannot take it.

Animal rights activists protesting even the last show played a significant role in the circus' demise.

Under mounting public pressure, Ringling retired its performing elephants in 2016.

With its biggest stars gone, tickets sales dropped dramatically.

"I am sad for the public," ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson said.

Eighteen years ago, Iverson became Ringling's first black ringmaster, and now he's the last ever.

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The circus, which is part of the fabric of America, was something few guessed would one day just die.

"This is a family breaking up. This is a culture coming to an end," Iverson said.

Sunday night, the ringmaster and the Feld family,  who owns the circus, said goodbye.

"This is the greatest show on earth," Kenneth Feld said.

The show ended with hugs, tears and the trademark phrase one last time,

"Farewell from the greatest show on earth."

The elephants that had performed and retired are now at a sanctuary in Florida. Ringling management says the other animals will go to other sanctuaries, or will go to circuses in Europe.

As for those who hope this is all just a stunt and the circus will be back,  Ringling management says that's not happening.